Keep these healthy grab-and-go snack essentials in your pantry, car, purse or desk, and you’ll never have to hit the vending machines and convenience stores. Buy them as pre-portioned snacks, or save money and bag them yourself.
Sure, you can buy trail mix already made up, but that’s no fun. You and your kids can come up with an endless variety of trail mix concoctions tailored to suit each picky eater and filled with energy-boosting foods such as sunflower seeds, nuts, dark chocolate pieces, raisins, dried cranberries, pretzel bits, popcorn, cinnamon-flavored cereal and more.
Health: 9 More good-for-moms snack ideas >>
It doesn’t get any easier than this. No matter where you’re headed, you can tote apples, pears, bananas, grapes or any of your beloved fruits or berries. Most fruits come in their own containers, so to speak, but even modified fruits (think delicious applesauce) are available in portable, ready-to-eat versions.
Read more: Fun ways to make fruit kid-friendly >>
Dried fruit, from tart to sweet, is an easy, portable way to get a good daily dose of vitamin C. It’s even more portable than its fresh fruit counterpart — and it won’t spoil.
Crafts: What you can make with dried fruits >>
Buy this delicious dried meat at the grocery store, or prepare your own with a dehydrator. Beef jerky provides a slew of nutrients, including protein, B vitamins and iron.
Recipe: Homemade beef jerky with lemon pepper and soy sauce >>
Nuts and seeds
A handful of peanuts or sunflower seeds provides heart-healthy fats, dietary fiber and protein, as well as antioxidants, vitamin E and selenium. While sugary snacks leave you feeling sluggish, protein-packed nuts help you feel re-energized. Good choices include almonds, walnuts, cashews, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, peanuts and sunflower seeds.
Beauty: Find out which nuts enhance the skin >>
With whole grains and fiber, granola bars are a satisfying, natural appetite quencher. Look for healthy low-sugar, low-calorie bars (or create your own) for a snack that provides fiber, antioxidants, protein and minerals.
Recipe: Healthy homemade granola bars >>
Eat yogurt-covered raisins or yogurt in a tube. The good bacteria will enhance your digestive system, and you’ll enjoy a nice boost of protein and calcium. It’s easier to digest than milk and comes in a wide variety of flavors, textures and packaging for your whole family to enjoy.
Hair care: Homemade yogurt mask for the hair >>
Speaking of calcium, don’t forget the cheese. Cut up a few blocks, pick up some low-cal wedges, or go with kid-favorite string cheese, all of which go great with many of the on-the-go snacks listed above.